The manager’s role is evolving in response to the needs of companies operating on the international stage. The complexity of globalization brought to the realm of management is great and requires the 21st century leader to adapt to offer modern solutions to modern problems. One area that is growing especially is intercultural leadership skills.
Most companies can no longer escape the need to buy, sell or work with people from different cultures. Multinational companies have offices that span the globe; manufacturers increasingly rely on foreign markets and distributors; services and products are no longer marketed exclusively to indigenous audiences, and many industries rely on immigrant labor. In short, very few companies avoid the need for intercultural communication.
As a result, companies are increasingly recognizing that intercultural leadership skills are critical to growing, diversifying and retaining a competitive edge. ‘Intercultural leadership skills’ is a loose term used to refer to a leader’s ability to communicate and deal effectively with people from different cultures. ‘Communication’ has long been recognized as the key to business success; However, ‘intercultural communication’ is now an increasingly critical term.
Intercultural communication is critical to business performance in various ways. Internally, an intercultural leader must be able to act as a medium between senior management and staff; communicate clearly and effectively with colleagues; build and nurture effective intercultural and transnational teams and demonstrate strategic global thinking.
Externally, an intercultural crib must demonstrate occupational acumen within the context of intercultural awareness to monitor entry into foreign markets; oversee the proper selection, guidance, and guidance of company representatives working with foreign interests; negotiate and manage conflict with clients and provide insight into potential areas of success or failure stemming from intercultural differences.
The intercultural leader therefore has the task of ensuring that communication between colleagues, clients and clients is clear, coherent and free of intercultural misunderstanding.
To achieve this, the intercultural manager must have certain key characteristics. This is specifically intercultural awareness, flexibility that exploits differences and patience.
Intercultural awareness is the fundamental foundation of all intercultural leadership skills. One must have hands on experience of living and / or working in different cultures, an understanding of how culture manifests itself in interpersonal interaction and has received intercultural training to consolidate this insight and awareness. Only through an understanding of intercultural differences will the manager develop further skills.
When intercultural awareness is active in a leader and they are capable of looking beyond surface-level manifestations of cultural differences, flexibility naturally occurs. Flexibility refers to the leader’s ability to adapt their behavior and leadership style to effectively deal with intercultural challenges and to think out of the box when it comes to offering solutions. The flexible intercultural leader is able to cushion intercultural tests and control the results positively.
Similarly, the intercultural manager must be keen to use intercultural differences positively. Cross-cultural differences do not in themselves lead to negative consequences. They only do it when they are wrongly administered. It is therefore the responsibility of the intercultural leader to assess the potential of personnel, products and policies that are guided by cultural differences and to ensure that they make it a constructive result.
Finally, the intercultural leader needs patience. As the Dutch saying goes, “A handful of patience is worth more than a helmet of brains.” Patience is key to a successful intercultural leader as it allows one to stay focused, analyze problems coherently, evaluate opportunities and implement solutions.
In conclusion, the success of companies in today’s globalized global economy depends heavily on their investment in cultivating intercultural leaders. With human traffic across borders constantly on the rise and business interests dependent on foreign markets, the intercultural leader is critical to coordinating, monitoring and implementing clear intercultural communication.